April 06, 2004



You may have heard of tulipmania, a seventeenth century craze in the grip of which people potlached their fortunes on new strains of the flower, speculating wildly on their future value. Lurid tales of noble families whose whole accumulated wealth was squandered on a single bulb tempted many an analyst to make a parallel between tulipmania and the dot com boom .

Well, I'm very sorry to tell you that, according to Saturday's Times, tulipmania was a myth, invented in the nineteenth century by the Scottish journalist Charles Mackay in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Apparently Peter Garber, head of Global Strategy at Deutsche Bank, has done all the number-cruching, establishing that “little economic distress was associated with the end of the tulipmania.”

I guess there's an interesting hyperstitional take on how Mackay's 'confabulation' - and its later fictionalization by Alexander Dumas - came to influence economists like Galbraith, but I'm too deflated to come up with it at the moment.

Posted by mark at April 6, 2004 12:16 AM | TrackBack

Hey, Mark, why don't you post more hyperstitional, conspiracy stuff? honestly, i think your best posts come through your insights into hyperstitional dynamics. meanwhile, i'm working on that exhumation piece i talked about. and check cold me board for a piece of news.

Posted by: Reza at April 6, 2004 06:23 AM

Yeh, well I've got one coming up on Philip Jose Farmer and I'm toying on doing one on Monarch mind control and Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Think it would may be a good idea to have a blog solely devoted to hyperstition, but this would have to be a collective thing, would require Nick and Anna to join in....

Posted by: mark k-punk at April 6, 2004 08:45 AM

... was thinking about the same thing ..., a collective faceless blog is the best solution. i can host and design a blog on a good server ... guess, Nick will join in, but as for Ana i don't know. what about you?

Posted by: Reza at April 6, 2004 10:05 AM

There are probably a few people at Deutsche Bank who wouldn't mind convincing us that the dotcom boom and crash 'wasn't as bad as they tell you' either!
Granted, the hyperstitional element in the tulipmania story makes it a pleasing paradox, but you're perhaps a little too quick to accept a banker's (and a banker with a PR agenda) version of the truth here - and the underlying idea, so retardant to the development of economic theory, that economic 'facts' are discoverable, mathematical and absolute?

Posted by: undercurrent at April 6, 2004 10:23 AM

Reza, yeh a hyperstitional blog wd be brilliant....

Robin, I'm happy to accept that the Deutsche Bank guy was talking bollocks. I desperately want to believe that the tulipmania story was true....

Posted by: mark k-punk at April 6, 2004 10:28 AM

rambling reply over-ran the comments box...will post on undercurrent instead!

Posted by: undercurrent at April 6, 2004 12:49 PM

yeh a hyperstitional blog wd be brilliant...

check your email box.

Posted by: Reza at April 6, 2004 01:49 PM


This is a word in currency, not just one of Mark's neologisms? Interstitial I think I get. Hyper I /think/ I get.

But people talking about a whole website about hypersitionality? Uh??

think I'll make a cup of tea...

Posted by: paul "I've fallen" meme at April 6, 2004 05:22 PM

Paul, don't worry 'hyperstition', doesn't quite have general currency yet, although it's not one of my neologisms, it was developed by Ccru, most especially in its special volume of Abstract Culture Digital Hyperstition (to be found online here: http://www.ccru.net/abcult.htm).

Hyperstition is easier to exemplify than to define; it's about circuits between the fictional and the real ---- with the fictional understood as the virtual, the potential, capable of exerting influence upon the actual ---- obv lots of economic examples, most spectacularly the non-event of Y2K --- nothing happened, but the potential event caused enormous perturbation/ haemmorhage (sp?) of kapital ---
or the dot com boom ----

a more arcane eg would be Lovecraft, whose fictional system was, as I'm sure you know, taken up by the likes of Kenneth Grant as if it were a real map of occult regions ----

Best working-out of this is in Carpenter's little-known masterpiece In the Mouth of Madness, which features a pulp author using his fiction as a channel to usher in the return of the Old Ones.

But hyperstition is everywhere once you start looking for it; kapitalism is essentially a hyperstitional culture....

Posted by: mark k-punk at April 6, 2004 06:41 PM

Agreed ... Carpenter's movie is a key; also, lots of potential stuff in video games.

Posted by: Reza at April 6, 2004 10:59 PM